Reply To: Beginning Band Quitters

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More band teachers should be blogging. Mr. T has a great question that I would love to hear all of the collective responses. I like having it in a commitment form as aforementioned. I start the year by telling the beginners that playing a musical instrument is the ultimate test of patience, that it will take 3 to 4 months before they can play their first song well. I like to talk about their future and show them concerts of previous bands that I have taught. They also get to see the second year band play a winter concert in early December, which helps. I do a band Olympics with the bronze level having some easy and basic things to keep them motivated to complete. Students get a bronze Tyvek wristband to wrap onto their case handle when complete. Bronze level has simple definitions, easy playing fundamentals (tonguing, finger position, etc.). I keep talking about how students should get together and have jam sessions, something I loved as a kid. When a student falls behind, their practice chart (which includes a weekly progress report) will indicate to the student and parent that the student “needs improvement”. I have a weekly mini conference with each student at the end of each lesson as I give them their practice chart. This gives me an opportunity to gives them praise and one thing they can do to improve (“make sure you keep the airstream flowing to play tenuto”.) With a student falling behind, I’ll gently ask them to try a little harder at home this week, etc. I don’t force students to practice, but they will need to because they hear how the others are getting ahead. This odd man out feeling usually pulls the slackers up and ultimately less of them quit. Having students play familiar tunes makes their lives much easier as well. I have students sing all tunes at lessons and rehearsals, giving them much more success at home, where the majority of their learning should be taking place. Mr. T is a terrific teacher and great representative of our industry as he takes personal responsibility for each student and continues to look for ways to improve. Anyone wanting examples of my version of the band Olympics or practice charts can email me at